Dusty Masters, Part 2
Dusty Masters, Part 2
A/N: Disclaimer's in the first chapter.
September 12, Sunnydale
There was, Xander decided, as he leaned back against the basement wall, taking a breather from sparring practice, something both disconcerting and awesome as hell watching Jon teach Joyce how to kick ass and take names.
The two of them had been at it all week, and Xander now had proof as to where Buffy got her fierceness from, because Joyce was a force to be reckoned with. Xander almost wondered if she'd been a potential Slayer, when she was younger. It would explain a lot, if she had been.
Other than the standard patrols ... well, the now-standard patrols, as they'd developed definite routes that ensured all corners of the town were covered at some point within a week's time ... they'd continued to be busy, though this time it was placing and securing their weapon stashes around town, so that they had quick and easy access to weapons no matter where they were when trouble reared its ugly head.
More information on the Anointed One had come in, which had royally pissed off both Buffy and Xander. Evidently, it was the same creepy-ass child-vamp that had led Buffy into the Master's lair right before he damn near ripped her throat out. The little creep also evidently had a 'preacher' he worked with, though Xander sincerely doubted the man's credentials as a man of god if he was siding with a vamp of any description, much less this kid.
Aside from having taken leadership of most of the vampires in town, and moving their base of operations away from the Hellmouth to an abandoned factory, the little creep was, according to Jon, talking about the Master's return an awful lot. Which had put both Buffy and Xander in even worse moods.
"I say we get some high-grade acid, dig the bastard up, and melt his bones to nothing in a big-ass vat." Xander had growled when they found out about that. "Make it impossible for him to come back."
"They might not be talking about the same Master, Xander." Buffy had pointed out. "Could be another old vamp from somewhere who's coming in to run things."
Which, Xander'd had to admit, was a viable explanation. Still, he didn't like it. Not one bit.
Xander's train of thought got broken when Joyce let out a victorious laugh as she managed to perform a new move Jon'd been teaching her correctly without him guiding her. He grinned and shook his head.
"Xander! Call for you!" Willow called from the top of the stairs. Xander blinked, then grinned and hustled upstairs, suspecting who it would be. He grabbed the phone as soon as he got upstairs.
"Hey Xander. Figured I'd call and see how things are down there." Jim said.
Xander grinned a little. "They're good. Angel's pouting, Joyce is learning how to kick ass and is more than a little terrifying. I think I figured out where Buffy got it from. Seriously. Joyce is more than a little awesome."
That got him a laugh from Jim. "So nothing much in the way of trouble?"
"Not really. At least, not yet." Xander told him. "There's some word doing the rounds about a Master returning ... but whether they mean the guy we dusted at the end of the school year or someone else, we haven't been able to figure out yet." Then he grinned hugely. "Oh, and, fair warning. Buffy's getting a bit of a crush on you."
There was a moment of startled silence from the other end of the line, making Xander's grin broaden even further. Then. "She's a weapon nut, I take it?"
Xander mock-pouted. "Yeah, just a bit. But then, I think everyone but Willow drooled a little when the truck got here. Jon even promised to teach us how to handle explosives, since you sent the grenade shells."
"Got plans for those, I take it?" Jim asked, sounding amused.
"Yeah. Jon's thinking holy water and garlic ... won't kill vamps, but it for damn sure will annoy and distract them, which is all to the good. And some fragmentation grenades, with stuff in them specifically for the sorts of demons that need to get hit with a certain metal or whatever to get dead. But doing all that's going to take a couple weeks, at least according to him, and I'll take his word on it. Oh, and by the way? You're officially the best father ever. That double-bladed axe you got me is sweet."
That got him another amused laugh. "Glad you like it." He said. "Jon been having any problems?"
"The first day of school was a bit rough, but we got that sorted." Xander told him. "Other than that, he's been fine."
"That's good. Sounds like he's adapting to it better than I have."
"Yeah, but his life was made of weird shit before, you know? Dealing with this would be easy compared." Xander said.
"Good point." Jim agreed. "He's had to learn to be flexible, at least to a point. Well, it's getting late, so I imagine you're going to be heading out soon. Talk to you again soon."
"Sure thing. Bye, Jim." Xander hung up once Jim had, and grinned.
It felt so weird ... but so good ... having a parental figure that gave a shit about him. That called to check up on him and make sure he was ok. He was quite sure that at some point, Jim would annoy him and Xander would wish he wasn't around ... given that Xander was a teenager, that was all but inevitable, but until then, Xander planned on thoroughly enjoying the novelty. Hell, he even had a mother of sorts in Joyce, who'd taken to being 'den mother' for the Scoobies with relish, tucking both Xander and Willow under her wings and fussing over them like she'd given birth to them in the last week.
Everyone gathered together and geared up in the basement. Xander grinned happily as he pulled on the leather harness that held the axe to his back, then grabbed the axe and petted the haft of it a bit. It truly was a beauty, three feet long, with two half-moon blades, each nearly a foot long and a bit less than that wide.
The haft was ash, wrapped with leather from base to tip. The section most usually grabbed was doubly wrapped with rubber, to provide a cushioned, slip-resistant grip. The blades gave the appearance of being older, as the metal was on the dark side and fairly matte, rather than the lighter, highly polished look new metal tends to have. Better still, much of the surface of the blades was marked with runes, which Giles had identified as ones for protection and sharpness. Whether or not the runes actually did any good was anyone's guess, but Xander definitely appreciated the thought ... and wondered where in the name of hell Jim had found it.
A KA-Bar and one of the tac vests, kitted out with small vials of holy water, garlic water, and a miniaturized first aid kit finished out Xander's preparations. Giles was toting a crossbow and a quiver full of arrows, while Jon had opted for a pair of KA-Bars and the single-bladed battle axe. Both men also had tac vests with the same items as Xander's, though Xander was fairly sure he'd seen Jon stashing a few additional items in his. Willow was carrying a second crossbow and quiver of arrows, as well as a KA-Bar and tac vest.
Buffy had a KA-Bar and three of the lighter knives, just in case. She also had a stake ... again, just in case. Jim and Jon had trained her out of depending on a stake, but she still kept one on hand as a backup. She alone wasn't wearing a tac vest, as it interfered in her ability to twist, turn, and generally make herself into a pretzel when she fought, and since she was the one that did the bulk of the up close and personal hand to hand fighting with the baddies, her being hampered was a bad idea.
Properly armed, they headed out. Today's patrol took them past where the Master's skeleton had been buried.
They got about halfway there when Jon stopped in his tracks, instinctively giving the military hand sign to freeze at the same time. Fortunately, Xander'd been keeping an eye on him, knowing he was listening for trouble as they walked, and put on the brakes when he did, which brought the others to a stop as well.
Xander put a hand on Jon's arm as an assist as Jon tipped his head, clearly concentrating on whatever he'd heard that had caught his attention. Jon was quiet for a few more moments then gave his head a shake and grimaced.
"Damn. We have a problem. Heard that whiny kid again. But he finally said something useful. Something about revivifying the Master, and digging him up. I think they're there right now."
"Oh, hell no." Buffy growled. "They are so not getting that bastard back to life. Xander ... just how fast can you get your hands on some high-grade acid?" She demanded.
Xander, despite the situation, couldn't quite suppress his amused snicker at her remembering that comment of his from a couple days ago. "Unfortunately, that's rather impractical. But I say we go dust these idiots before they get the Master dug up, and then we can do something about him once the pressure's off."
"That is definitely a plan." Jon agreed, then got moving again.
They'd gotten about halfway there when Jon froze again. This time, Xander didn't need his ears. Because even he could hear the faint sounds of agonized screams. "What the hell?"
"Not human." Jon said, grabbing Xander's sleeve when Xander started to take off. "I'm getting no heartbeats from the gravesite. Whoever's doing the screaming, they're a vampire."
Well, that cooled Xander's jets. But still. "Again, I say what the hell?"
"Let's find out."
They approached the Master's gravesite, which was in one of the cemeteries ... one of the older ones right next to a church, where the ground was consecrated. It had been their main defense against any funny business with the Master's skeleton, whether from outside agencies or the skeleton itself ... since none of them had any idea whether or not the bastard could regenerate himself, given enough time.
The place was just about literally crawling with vampires ... at least twenty of them, two on the gate alone Thankfully, they all seemed to be rather newly-risen, given the predominance of 'nice' clothes that people were generally buried in. But at the center of the chaos was the Anointed One, and another vampire, who evidently had enough status to just be standing around.
The minions, on the other hand, were digging the Master up. By hand. Which explained the screaming, and, now that they were closer, the pleas for mercy from some of them. Even as they watched, one of the poor bastards went up in dust, its body unable to handle the damage the consecrated earth was doing it. The effect was evidently strong enough to necessitate protection for the Anointed one and his main stooge, Xander noticed after a minute, as he spotted them both standing on what looked like a blanket, thus protected against the corrosive effect consecrated earth had on vampiric bodies.
Jon turned, and motioned Giles and Willow forward. With this many vampires, it'd be best to dust as many as they could from a distance before they went hand-to-hand. Buffy took the second crossbow from Willow and hunkered down beside Giles.
Just seconds before they started firing, Jon did the freezing thing again, then held up a hand to prevent them from firing.
"They know we're here. Or at least, the little bastard does." Jon whispered. "He just told his friend there that it was time for them to leave, before the Slayer and her friends started wreaking havoc."
That made them all frown for a moment, then Buffy shrugged. "We'll figure out how he knew later. Right now, let's get these guys and the skeleton."
There were nods, then Buffy and Giles hunkered down again and started shooting.
They got about six vampires between them before the rest of them figured out what was going on and where the bolts were coming from. Some of them bolted for the hills, but about half of the survivors started swarming their direction. Buffy tossed her crossbow back to Willow and pulled her knife, then raced to meet them.
Jon and Xander herded Willow, their weakest fighter, against a crypt and then bracketed her, axes in hand. Giles did his best to keep up with Buffy and guard her back in the melee. Jon and Xander didn't have much to do at first, as most of the vampires concentrated on the biggest apparent threat, namely Buffy.
But there were enough of them that they couldn't all get their licks in ... or try to ... so some of them did end up heading for Jon and Xander. Jon made very short work of any of them stupid enough to get in his range. Xander was pleased to discover that while he was nowhere near racking up Jon's body (dust?) count, he was doing way, way better than he had during the previous school year ... he didn't get grabbed and thrown even once. Even Willow got a couple of licks in, darting in to knife a vampire that was busy trying to fight off Jon and/or Xander.
Within a couple of minutes, there was only dust on the wind. Some seven or so vampires, not including the Anointed One and his stooge, had escaped them, however. Buffy was panting slightly as she wiped her brow.
"Ok, you know what? I'm sort of glad Jon and Jim were remorseless bastards this summer, because otherwise, that would have been a bitch." She said, then looked at Jon. "But so help me, if you tell Jim I said that, I'm going to tell Ms. Calendar you have a crush on her."
Jon sputtered and wrinkled his nose at her. "That's going a bit far, doncha think? We better get the bastard dug up and do something with him."
It didn't take them long to dig the Master back up ... the job had been half-done for them before they'd even got there. Jon kept a sharp ear out for any nonhuman reinforcements as they worked. Once they'd got the bones out of the grave, they wrapped them in a blanket and got out of there.
"So, what do we do with them?" Buffy wanted to know. "Since the acid idea is a no-go?"
"Well, if they need the bones ... I say we pound them to powder, drive out of town somewhere, and dump the powder in the ocean. They're not going to be able to do a damn thing, then." Jon proposed.
"That sounds like it would be the simplest solution, yes." Giles agreed.
"Oh, goodie. Mom even has a sledgehammer." Buffy said with an evil grin.
"Hey, mind if I get a lick or two in?" Xander asked. "I kind of have a few issues with the bastard."
"Be my guest. We can all take turns, for that matter." Buffy said.
Which is exactly what they ended up doing. Even Joyce took a couple swings ... ok, more than a couple ... getting her anger at the Master for damn near killing her daughter out of her system. The next morning, Giles took a brief drive out of Sunnydale and dumped the resultant fine powder into the ocean.